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How cigars can help your business

Ok, so cigars themselves won’t help your business – unless you work in a similar lifestyle sector, but my knowledge of content marketing, developed from publishing Australia’s first and longest running cigar blog, Inlumino Cigar News Australia, will.

Yesterday I picked up Trevor Young’s microDOMINATION book. I follow Trevor on Twitter and had heard about this book and finally spotted it in a bookstore while I was waiting to catch up with a friend. The front cover reads: how to leverage social media and content marketing to build a mini-business empire around your brand. Before even reading the first page, the book’s front cover gave me inspiration to share my story.

I started Inlumino Cigar News Australia in 2006, just after I had my first feature published by European cigar magazine Cigar Journal. I spotted a gap in the market and wanted to share my love of cigars on a local level. I was the first to set up anything like it in Australia and over the years, developed the skills and knowledge to be able to now deliver to clients the buzzword of the moment: Content Marketing.

Over 6 ½ years, I published 379 posts which garnered 84,504 page views and over 200 comments. I recently decided to close it down in 2013 (hence why I’m not linking to it in this blog post) to focus on my burgeoning communications consultancy – of which content marketing is a growing component.

By blogging about cigars, industry personalities, cigar events and what was happening internationally, I developed a following and positioned myself as an independent expert on cigars in Australia.

My blog was a labour of love – I didn’t seek any payment and didn’t even have an ad words program set up. What it delivered though was a network that assisted my cigar-related income, namely my writing for Cigar Journal and other magazines, and my cigar appreciation sessions. The blog positioned me as the person to see when anything cigar related occurred. When cigar producers from the USA, Cuba or Nicaragua visited, I was invited to meet and greet sessions. When cigar tasting sessions were held by magazines I scored an invite. I was interviewed by cigar companies who wanted to learn more about the Australian cigar industry and I was interviewed twice by an American-based cigar podcast. Of course, I shared and re-posted all this content through my blog to acknowledge my network and help grow mine further.

Some of the perks were great: Attending cigar events up and down the Eastern seaboard of Australia; free cigars to review; a trip to the RTDA, now the IPCPR – the world’s largest cigar trade show; a trip to Nicaragua to blog and write about cigars.

I published at least one post per week or fortnight, wrote about current issues, asked questions to create engagement, ran polls and surveys, and asked for guests to post. I also shared a lot of other people’s content and commented on it. I was authentic, giving negative cigar reviews when warranted, and I was critical of some aspects of the industry and government interference. All these tactics made Inlumino Cigar News Australia relevant and engaging.

OK – so cigars aren’t your ‘thing’. But establishing a content marketing program based around your personal ‘thing’, or your organisation’s products or services, will help establish yourself as an industry expert – the cash won’t start rolling in just because of your blog, videos or podcasts, but it will help the income-producing parts of your business. Great relationships, engaged customers and being known as a ‘Thought Leader’ will help your business stay relevant, especially as social sharing increasingly becomes the new digital currency.

Some tips about Content Marketing are within this story: authenticity, engagement, frequency, and sharing. I hope you’ve found my experience with my cigar blog inspiring enough to jump into the world of ‘Content Marketing’. Who knows where it could take you and your business. Cohiba anyone?

Cheers, Sam

Inlumino Communications is a PR, content marketing, and Social Media consultancy servicing SME clients from a variety of industries.
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